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February 9, 2021

Safer Internet Day: How to Make the Web More Secure for Everyone

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Every year, for almost two decades, an international holiday comes and goes on February 9th. That holiday, Safer Internet Day, was first organized in the EU in 2004. It aims to educate internet users about how to remain safe online, while encouraging them to make the digital space safer for others in turn. Safer Internet Day is celebrated in nearly 200 hundred countries around the world. Each nation raises awareness about many online dangers, including privacy breaches, social media, cyberbullying, and more. You can celebrate Safer Internet Day, and make the web a safer space for everyone, with these quick tips:

  • Protect yourself
  • Report online threats
  • Educate others
  • Be aware

Protect Yourself

If you’ve ever been on a plane, you’ll probably remember your flight attendant’s safety speech where they urged you to put on your own oxygen mask first in the event of an emergency, and then help others. The same principle applies with digital security. Before you can help protect others, you must first make sure that you’re safe. These are just a few of the steps you can take:

  • Use Strong Passwords: Passwords protect almost all of your information online, from your contact information to your banking details. If those passwords are weak and easily hackable, you open yourself up to data and identity theft. You can make your passwords stronger by using random strings of letters and numbers, including symbols, and varying the capitalization of your letters.
  • Don’t Click Unexpected Links: Unless you’re expecting a link or can verify its trustworthiness, avoid clicking on links as much as possible. They’re an easy way for hackers to install malicious software on your devices, or steal your information. Even worse, many links (especially on social media) have the capability to spread to others by accessing your contacts, thus perpetuating their danger online.
  • Defend Your Devices: By making sure your devices are as hacker-proof as possible, you not only protect yourself, but you also protect others online. Make sure your browsers and device software are up-to-date, so they have the latest security measures. Install antivirus software. And consider using a VPN, which is a digital tool that encrypts your online activity and makes you appear anonymous as you browse.

Report Online Threats

Once you know how to protect yourself online, you can start making a safer internet for others. There are a few ways you can help, starting with reporting online threats. If you receive suspicious emails that slipped through your spam filters, report them to your email provider so they can investigate and tighten their security measures. When a Facebook friend messages you out of the blue or posts a status about “selling sunglasses,” chances are they’ve accidentally clicked a link that took over their accounts. Shoot them a message to let them know they’ve been compromised. Then they can tell others, and update their account security. Hackers aren’t the only online threat, either. Cyberbullies and trolls can sow dissent and stir up trouble online; reporting them can help prevent the spread of fake news and dangerous content online.

Educate Others

The reason hackers, scams, and trolls are successful online is due, in part, to the fact that many internet users simply lack the knowledge to identify and respond to digital threats. One way you can help create a safer internet is by educating others. This is especially true for younger users who are just beginning to explore the web, and those who are older and don’t have a natural proclivity for technology. If education prevents just one user from falling victim to a scam, you’ve already made the internet a safer place.

Be Aware

Finally, it’s all too easy to become a threat online, without even realizing it. This can happen by mistakenly clicking links that are then spread to your contacts. Unfortunately, these situations aren’t always preventable (some links really do look legit). However being aware that you may have clicked on something not entirely safe can help you protect yourself and others.

In addition, be aware of the content you directly share on social media. When thinking about digital threats, most people’s minds automatically conjure up images of hackers in darkened basements. However, hackers are far from the only threat online. Cyberbullying and misinformation proliferate in a digital environment. It’s easy for people to make harsh comments or share years-old articles without even thinking about it. Making a conscious effort to be aware of your actions online can make a world of difference in creating a safer internet.

Take the first step to protecting yourself online by installing Hotbot VPN today. Our app can protect up to six devices at a time, and can be downloaded on Android, iOS, and Windows operating systems.

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